CHICAGO (Dow Jones)-- Chicago Board of Trade corn futures ended sharply higher Tuesday on a weak dollar and cold, wet weather forecasts, as funds continued to buy into the market.

December corn was up 16 3/4 cents to $3.58 1/4 per bushel, and March corn was up 16 1/4 cents to $3.70 1/2.

The rally was fueled by fund-buying, with funds buying an estimated 17,000 contracts. The weaker dollar set a supportive tone for commodities across the board, analysts added. A surprise interest rate hike by Australia weakened the dollar and encouraged more risk-taking, a trader said.

Adding to the bullish sentiment were weather forecasts calling for cold temperatures that could cause frost damage and rains that will delay harvest for the crop that's already mature. The cold weather is expected to cause frost damage at least in the northwest corn belt on the weekend and into early next week, and there are questions about whether other parts of the corn belt will also get hit.

A frost or freeze remains a concern because the crop's maturation is behind schedule. That was highlighted by Monday's crop progress report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which "had to shake the bears up pretty good," said Jerry Gidel, analyst with North America Risk Management Services.

Wet weather across the corn belt will keep late crop maturation to a minimum, analysts added.

Technical momentum was also a factor, as the market hit buy stops and the December contract surged above the 100-day moving average for the first time since June before trimming gains later in the day.

Even excluding the dollar's weakness and weather concerns, "we were already in a position where the technicals looked positive on wheat and corn," added Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities in Des Moines.

The December contract's close was its highest since Aug. 3.

But bears say that regardless of the weather, the crop will still come in very large at 13 billion bushels or higher.

CBOT oats futures ended higher. December oats ended up 6 1/4 cents to $2.28 1/4 per bushel and March oats ended up 6 1/4 cents to $2.41 3/4.

Ethanol futures ended higher. November ethanol ended up $0.024 to $1.772 per gallon and December ethanol ended up $0.042 to $1.818.


-By Ian Berry, Dow Jones Newswires; 312-341-5778; ian.berry@dowjones.com